Countryside Matters 2014 - page 34-35

Countryside
Matters
32
Countryside
Matters
33
TOMORROW’S TIMBER
TOMORROW’S TIMBER
Agrowing
opportunity
IfBritainwantstomanage itswoodlandsefficientlyandsustainably,weneed
tohave an accurate estimateof the areaof woodland; the current amount
of timberwhich is in thosewoodlandsand toknowhowmuch timber those
woodlandscanyieldsustainably.
In this country, it is particularly important to have such a forecast as our
forestsdon’tproducea levelamountoftimberovertime. Thescaleoftimber
productionhasfluctuatedwidelyoverhistory.
Let’stakethe20thcentury– inthe 1900sBritain’swoodlandcoverextended
to just 4% to6%of the country. The lackof forestedareas createdgreat
problemsduringtheFirstWorldWarwhenthenationwasentirelydependent
on timber imports. TheGermanUboat blockadeof shippingmeant thatwe
nearlyranoutofthetimbersovital tocoalmining–ourmajorenergysource
atthetime.ItwasamajorissueforBritainandascenariowhichwasreplicated
duringtheSecondWorldWar.
TheGovernment decided itwas time for actionandagreat deal of forestry
plantingwasundertakenwithnewwoodlandsestablishedbetween 1920and
thepresentday.Thelevelofwoodlandcovernowstandsataround13%-twice
orthreetimestheamountwehadacenturyago.
Alongside the surges in planting, come peaks and troughs in production
andknowingwhen thosepeaksand troughshit isparticularly important for
planningdevelopment-whenandwheresawmillsandbiomasspowerstations
aretobebuiltandhow longtheyareforecasttooperatefor.
The re-establishmentofBritishWoodlandbenefitsnot just the
environment,butalso theeconomyandourqualityof life.
by
BenDitchburn
NationalForestry
Inventory
Programme
Leader for
GreatBritain
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